Bravas Sauce Recipe – A Spanish Condiment With a Kick!

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in Spanish tapas bars, you’ve probably experienced the joy of patatas bravas. This classic, cheap tapa is a simple combination of fried potatoes and salsa brava: a bright red, slightly spicy condiment that elevates it to the next level.

Learn how to make it at home with this Spanish bravas sauce recipe!

The best patatas bravas in Madrid Docamar
Delicious patatas bravas.

What is bravas sauce made of?

Like many classic Spanish dishes, an authentic bravas sauce recipe is based on just a few essential ingredients. Olive oil, seasonings, flour, and broth are combined to achieve the right flavor and consistency. Some modern recipes suggest tomatoes or tomato paste, but the truly traditional bravas sauce gets its color—and its spiciness—from a different key ingredient…

What makes bravas sauce spicy?

The not-so-secret ingredient in bravas sauce is pimentón, or smoked paprika. This seasoning is featured in a wide variety of Spanish dishes, from pulpo a la gallega to chorizo.

There are two main varieties of Spanish paprika: pimentón dulce (sweet) and pimentón picante (hot). For this bravas sauce recipe, you’ll want a combination of both, if possible. The amount of pimentón picante you use can be adjusted to taste, although most bravas sauce is relatively mild.

See also: A Short History of Spanish Paprika

If you can’t find pimentón picante where you are, you can also use a combination of pimentón dulce and cayenne pepper. If there’s no pimentón available at all, use regular paprika with cayenne or chili powder. Even if your local supermarket doesn’t stock the real thing, however, you’re likely to find it at a specialty food or spice shop.

What’s the history of bravas sauce?

It’s widely accepted that patatas bravas originated in Madrid, and they continue to enjoy great popularity both within and beyond the Spanish capital. Bravas sauce, by extension, was almost certainly born in Madrid as well; the sauce and the dish go hand in hand.

See also: An Easy Homemade Patatas Bravas Recipe

In fact, you’ll rarely find bravas sauce drizzled over any other snack or entrée. You don’t spread it on sandwiches or add it into recipes. Or rather, traditional Spanish chefs don’t—what you do in your own kitchen is up to you. If you want to slather bravas sauce over anything and everything, I support that.

Spanish alioli sauce recipe
Tasty patatas bravas topped with garlicky aioli.

Anyway, it’s said that patatas bravas and their signature sauce were created at either Casa Pellico or La Casona, two Madrid bars that have since closed down. Others claim that their origins lie on Calle Álvarez del Gato, where a modern bar called Las Bravas proudly advertises its legendary bravas sauce recipe.

Regardless of the true birthplace, Madrileños agree that this dish is one of the most iconic symbols of the city’s culinary identity.

Try all of Madrid’s local specialties on a Madrid food tour!

The best bravas sauce recipe

Try this quick and easy bravas sauce recipe to make your own patatas bravas. They’re perfect as an appetizer or party snack, or the main attraction of a homemade tapas feast!

4.4 from 5 reviews
Bravas Sauce Recipe
 
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This sauce is an essential element of Spanish patatas bravas. Adjust it to your taste by varying the level of spiciness!
Author:
Recipe type: Tapa
Cuisine: Spanish
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of pimentón picante (hot smoked paprika)
  • 2 tsp of pimentón dulce (sweet smoked paprika)
  • 1 Tbs flour
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Remove the pan from the burner before it starts to smoke.
  3. Add the pimentón dulce and pimentón picante, and stir until they form a paste.
  4. Stir in the flour until combined.
  5. Add the broth little by little, stirring constantly, until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
  6. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Pour over some fried potatoes and enjoy!
Notes
The finished product should be bright orange and neither thin nor creamy. You can adjust the level of spiciness by increasing the ratio of pimentón picante, or by adding a bit of hot sauce!

 

More Spanish sauce recipes:

What’s your favorite Spanish sauce? What did you think of this bravas sauce recipe?

Comments

  1. Thanks for publishing this simple, authentic recipe. I just returned from a trip to Spain and Italy which included a much anticipated visit to ‘Las Bravas’ in Madrid, a place I used to haunt in my early teaching days in the city. Going back for ‘una de bravas’ was a highlight of the trip! I had always looked for a recipe that came close to their signature sauce, and yours is the closest I have found. Muchísimas gracias y aproveche!

  2. Hi I live in Sydney and am about to host a Spanish reunion party in two days time
    Can I make the Bravas sauce ahead
    Thank you for great recipes
    Phe

  3. This recipe doesn’t work at all. 0/5. Adding the dry ingredients to the hot oil does not make a paste of any kind, and adding the broth to that obviously won’t help. I even tried using less oil, more dry ingredients, hotter oil, etc and frankly I feel stupid thinking adding some spice to olive oil would ever work. Very disappointing.

    1. Hi there Ben — did you add the flour as well? While adding the spices alone won’t quite form a paste, once the flour is in there it definitely will, much like when making a roux for the base of any sauce. Then adding the broth little by little will thin our the floury paste (which on its own would be inedible). This is the classic way to make bravas sauce here in Spain, and it always works for me! Best of luck!

    2. i had the same problem, follow the recipe exactly. The oil was quite warm to begin and sizzled slightly as i added the paprika and flour. It didn’t thicken until i put it back on the heat, so maybe next time try that. Even with that small boost of heat, the flour sucked up the oil and made the roux quickly. It definitely doesn’t have the same dark colouring as pictured though.

  4. Just made it.I only had normal UK supermarket paprika so thought I’d add some chilli powder. Next time I’m going to use less as it made it vindaloo strength. Nice flavour though and suprisingly easy to make.

  5. I’ve been making bravas sauce like this for some time, since we first visited Spain 30 years ago, in fact. As my wife became Celiac a few years back I thicken it with chickpea flour, though. We moved to Spain, in the mountains of North Granada, 2 years ago and all the bars in the village serve their patatas bravas with ready made sauce, bringing the bottle to the table with the potatoes, but we have found a few places in nearby towns that make their own, though we have to check if it’s gluten free first. We had delicious patatas bravas in a bar in Almeria recently that had jalapeno peppers in, which really gave it a kick.

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